Normandie Elementary School music teacher Asuncion Ojeda was honored recently with a Shining Star award from Education Through Music-Los Angeles for her lifelong commitment to the arts.
“Through music, our honorees inspire our youth to achieve their highest potential,” said Victoria Lanier, executive director of ETM-LA.
A music teacher for more than 25 years, Dr. Ojeda was born in Manilla, Philippines and moved in 1974 to California, where she attended L.A. Unified schools.
“Singing was a big part of my elementary school,” Ojeda said. “I had music, and it was part of my school day.”
Ojeda was inspired by her music teacher to pursue education as a career path. “My high school band and orchestra director was so inspiring; and he just had a way of getting everybody to perform at their best …. I decided back then that someday I wanted to be doing what he was doing.”
Ojeda holds degrees from Cal State-Northridge, CalArts, and the University of Southern California. She has performed with a wide range of musical ensembles, from the California Junior Philharmonic and Youth Symphony West to the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Filipino American Symphony Orchestra and LA Master Chorale.
Randy Spendlove, who is president of Worldwide Music and Publishing for Paramount Pictures, also was presented with a Shining Star award during the Dec. 6 ceremony at the Skirball Museum.
“Teachers on the ground are the real heroes,” Spendlove said. “Teachers would let me take instruments home on the weekends, and my theater teacher would give me keys to the school to practice on the weekends.”
ETM-LA last year served more than 7,000 students in Los Angeles Unified and hopes to increase that to 10,000 this year, through fund-raisers like the Shining Stars gala.
“Bringing the benefit of music education to our LAUSD students is one of the most important things that can be done to shape a young person’s life,” said Rory Pullens, executive director of the District’s Arts Education program. “LAUSD is proud to work with such a wonderful organization like ETM-LA in our efforts to make sure every LAUSD student experiences the joy of music.”